GP at the Met: Les Contes d'Hoffmann
Preview the Opera

The Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, conducted by Met Music Director James Levine and directed by Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher, premieres on THIRTEEN’S Great Performances at the Met series. Joseph Calleja sings the title role, joined by Anna Netrebko as both Antonia and Stella, Kathleen Kim as Olympia, Ekaterina Gubanova as Giulietta, and Kate Lindsey as Nicklausse/The Muse. Alan Held sings all four villain roles. In a recent review, The New York Times called the Met’s new Hoffmann “a musically gratifying and visually theatrical staging,” and notes “there are many subtleties to Mr. Sher’s new staging of the work…public and private spaces overlap in this production. Other scenic touches… provide continuity among the acts.” Les Contes d’Hoffmann airs on THIRTEEN’S Great Performances at the Met in primetime on PBS on Wednesday, March 24 at 9 p.m. (check local listings).

Great Performances at the Met is a presentation of THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG – one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.

Sher, whose Great Performances at the Met debut production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia was an audience favorite, created the new staging for Offenbach’s final masterpiece, which he calls “a magical journey in which the title character works out different manifestations of his psyche…The opera is often approached in terms of the crazy imagination of Hoffmann,” Sher says, referring to the early German romantic polymath whose stories are used for the opera’s episodic plot. “I’m more interested in why Offenbach, who had been a very popular operetta composer, was seeking to write a serious work to gain acceptance. Why, so late in his career, did he feel this need to be accepted? That led me to consider Offenbach’s sense of being Jewish and an outsider. Whatever group he was in, he always appears as an outsider who never feels like he belongs, never feels like he’s connected.” The ambiguities and split identities of the characters figure in Sher’s vision of the piece.

Offenbach died before a definitive score for Les Contes d’Hoffmann was established, though he left many sketches of possible additions and replacements which have led to different performing versions over the years. This production uses the same version that was used in the Met’s most recent revival, in 1999-2000, with the Olympia act first, followed by the Antonia act, then Giulietta placed third. Maestro Levine says of the musical version, “The music is so inspired, and I think we have made effective choices in the absence of an authentic, fully realized original version.” Great Performances at the Met: Les Contes d’Hoffmann is the fifth of 10 productions airing this season during the 2009-2010 series. The performance is sung in French with English surtitles. Set designer Michael Yeargan and costume designer Catherine Zuber, both Tony Award-winners who worked with Sher on his acclaimed Great Performances at the Met production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, are also on the production team for the new Les Contes d’Hoffmann. James F. Ingalls joins them as the lighting designer, and the choreography is by Dou Dou Huang.

Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers and PBS. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home-builder®. Major support for the telecast was also provided by the Annenberg Foundation.

For the Met, Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.

  • audrey Grant

    No sound came through from the video. Also unable to get date of “Les Contes d”Hofffmann” on WQED, Pittsburgh, PA.

  • Jane Frank

    I heard the sound just fine on the video clip – and found the date for South Florida – Wed. Mar. 24 at 9pm. Thank you, PBS. Turandot was such a treat.

  • Johnny Sonneborn

    Please give the date that a show was taped, so that we can tell if it was previously broadcast on PBS.

  • Adam

    Does KLRU not get to see it????????

  • CARLOS FRANCO

    Exelente performance. The cute little “doll” was so dear. From the begining to the end. I wish I could by the DVD

  • Jon Varga

    I’ve seen many different productions of Les Contes d’Hoffmann over the years, and with each one I realize more fully why this opera has endured. It is not only emotionally and musically satisfying, it proves that Offenbach was definitely underrated as an operatic composer. Hoffmann is his crowning glory. This particular MET production is a mixture of good and bad.

    The bad? This production was uninspired, colorless, and largely unimaginative. I’ve seen productions of Hoffmann that have dazzled, exploded, and blown the proverbial roof off. This one hardly even smoked. While watching it, I heard echoes of Hoffmann’s words “Nothing enchants me here.”

    The good? Anything conducted by James Levine is flawless. In my humble opinion, he’s never had a bad conducting day and is the greatest operatic conductor of our time. All the singers were absolutely superb. Joseph Calleja is fantastic as Hoffmann. Anna Netrebko is perfection personified – and beautiful, to boot.

    The excellent performances in this Hoffmann production greatly overshadow the drabness.

    P.S. What the heck happened to “Turandot”?? I didn’t see it here in the wilds of West Texas! Perhaps the dust was too thick and I missed it……

  • Audrina

    I wish i can see it………………any link? or date and time and when it is to be broadcast?

  • lesliann

    I love all the performances at the met, it is just a treat.

  • Frank

    I had awful reception from my Dish Network provider: the picture kept breaking up into mini-pixels, which was both annoying and distracting, to say the least. Does anyone know if it will be re-broadcast? Here in NYC they used to air them again the following Sunday, but that custom may have fallen by the wayside, the way Channel 13 WNET has been programming lately.

  • JOAN STARKMAN

    ON OUR PBS39 WE THOROUGHLY ENJOYED EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS PRODUCTION!OUTSTANDING!
    JAMES LEVING SUBLIME AS USUAL. WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHEN AIRING OF LAST TWO ON OUR PBS
    39 WILL BE AIRED.

  • Michael West

    Thank you Met for doing the Michael Kaye finale of Hoffmann. It was beautiful and inspiring. The performances were glorious. On est grand par l’amour, et plus grand par les pleurs.

    Do anyone know if it will be rebroadcast via PBS?

  • Soren

    Saw it live in December (without Levine) but enjoyed the TV broadcast even more for the closeups. In that broadcast I think I saw that the new Carmen and Rosenkavalier would be broadcast, but I can’t seem to find any information, such as dates. And please bring back more Met broadcasts!

  • Janet

    Thank You so much for broadcasting this performance of Hoffman. I was unable to see it when it came out in HD in December due to illness, but had listened on the Internet. Now to be able to place pictures to the music, it was so enjoyable. Thank you for letting me see my brother Alan Held perform. I was so proud of his accomplishment and all of the performers in this production. It was good to see James Levine back to his excellent production of such glorius music.. Bravo and Brava!!!!

  • scott

    The first portion of this opera with Kathleen Kim as Olympia must be heard to be believed. It is simply one of the most brilliant performances I have heard to date.

  • Mike

    “Come, fill my cup until the sun comes up!”

  • Mercedes

    Where can I get a DVD copy.

  • Barb

    This was amazing, when will it be rebroadcast in Chicago?

  • ellenb

    The music took 2nd place to an overproduced mess. The director interfered with overly distracting junk for costumes and stage business. The conducting of Levine was often too fast in tempo and general pacing, not allowing the full flowering of the meodies and expression. Except for Antonia’s sad aria which was a bit overly slow. I turned it off during the last act….too much. Cast was excellent except for hoffmann who was just average. See the famous powell film, or hear if psbl the wonderful alfredo kraus as hoffmann.

  • david ernst

    Frank,

    Great Performances at the Met: Les Contes d’Hoffmann will be re-airing in the NYC local area after SundayArts on April 4th at 12pm. We hope this helps. For our viewers nationwide, please check your local listings by clicking the following link to find the most up-to-date schedule for Great Performances at the Met. Thank you for watching Great Performances and Great Performances at the Met.
    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/schedule-met/

  • Sheila Lanz-Jimenez

    I was so happy when I looked on my TV Guide to find that thisopera, Tales of Hoffman, would be shown on Wednesday, March 24, 2010 on KCET. It seemed to good to be true, finally an opera on KCET. I planned my evening around it and was all excited and ready to sit down and enjoy the performance.
    It turned out to really be too good to be true. Imagine my disappointment when I tuned in to find that the opera was not being shown. Instead there was a plege program, usually I have no problem with these pledge breaks, but it was followed by a program of Motown music.
    KCET just isn’t showing opera or classical music anymore. They have old pop music and everything else but not classical music. I am so disappointed in that station.

  • Sierra

    Beautiful performance! Joseph Calleja has a mesmerizing voice! I really want this on CD, does anyone know where I could find it?

  • KRW

    a second broadcast is usually scheduled for each met performance on Sunday Arts or on another day – what happened? I cannot find a second date is this a new PBS policy. There seems to be some difficulty with outlining a coherent schedule on this website. I signed up for emails about sunday arts and still do not get any.

  • Calvin

    Great Met. opera had tickets to see it had to cancell was sick.Thank God for PBS broadcast it on channel 13.The only thing kept losing the picture and sound.But I have Met. Player so I can watch it any time.

  • Adam

    KLRU from Austin didn’t get to watch it either. Barber of Seville is shown but no Hoffman…I was looking forward to it

  • Charlie

    In response to Michael West:
    I agree with you on the magnificence of Offenbach’s original finale to “Hoffmann” (sometimes referred to as the “apotheosis”), but, unfortunately, the MET did not use anything from the forthcoming Kaye/Keck co-edition for this production. The version of the finale used by the MET comes from the Fritz Oeser edition, published in 1977, and which has now been discredited. There are actually several different versions of this finale in Kaye’s edition, including one in which Stella sings, all of which are authentic. Oeser’s version is not, for reasons which are far too complicated to go into here (for example the heavily augmented string passages toward the close – very effective, yes, but not even close to Offenbach’s style). I’m hoping that some day the MET will choose to use Kaye/Keck (which includes Offenbach’s original Giulietta act, a vast improvement on any other known version), but, alas, to date, they have not.

  • Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ

    Any production of the “Tales of Hoffmann” is bound to find both enthusiasts and those unimpressed, for like “Boris Godunov” and “Tannhauser” and “La Forza del Destino” and “Fidelio” and “Don Carlo” there exist several versions of each of these often performed operas . each having merits, but not thoroughly convincing on their own to many. Toscanini stopped the premiere performance of “Turandot” at La Scala on April 26, 1926, exclaiming “here the Master lay down his pen.” Puccini had died leaving the opera unfinished Franco Alfano, utilizing the raw sketches of Puccini and incorporating previous music in the opera, wrote the final scene. However, many purists consider the ending pedestrian. So it is with Tannhauser that the Paris version, Wagner by then a maturer, more accomplished, composer, in this version, with denser orchestration than the previous Dresden version, demonstrates a pastiche possible by the significant difference. Verdi also like Wagner “tampered” with his “Macbeth:” and “Don Carlo.” “improving” them. Chefs would appreciate the ingredient value of such judgments. Kenneth Bennett Lane, Wagnerian heldentenor and opera composer: “Shakespeare” & “The Political Shakespeare” and director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute.
    Website: http://www.WagnerOpera.c om

  • Kristen

    LOVED this production of “Les Contes d’Hoffmann!” I would purchase this on DVD or CD in a heartbeat! It’s officially my favorite opera.

  • John Falzon

    Please, please can you re-play Les Contes d’Hoffman, I missed it.

  • marjorie langen

    Isa this production being reaired soon. thank you

  • William Scanlan

    I think I am one of the many who would love to see this reaired. I missed the original presentation.

  • Steve

    I only caught a few minutes of this and I was hooked!! PBS, you have got to not only replay this, but sell the DVD. I’d make a handsome contribution if that DVD was the thank you gift!

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  • Madeline (D’Ascenz) Bolbol

    I enjoyed The Tales of Hoffman, at the Metropolitan Opera, recently shown on KQED, San Francisco ; the cast/music were outstanding. I first saw the performance of The Tales of Hoffman in Istanbul, Turkey years ago; my favorite score of music was/is The Barcarolle….unforgettable!

    May I leave a comment for Anna Netrebko who sang Antonia’s role magnificently? was disappointed and saddened to hear her say when being interviewed that she enjoyed her chinchilla wrap. If she only knew how brutally animals are kept in captivity and their lives sacrificed so people can wear their skins/fur. I am hopeful that you, Anna Netrebko, will consider wearing faux furs in the future which are so beautifully made to complement your beauty. Thank you.

    Thank you,
    Madeline Bolbol

  • Corrie R

    I loved this opera! Is there any chance that it may come out on dvd any time soon? I would love to add it to my collection and watch it over and over. Or could you at least re-air it . . . please!!!!

    Thank you,
    Corrie

  • Andrew Acciaro

    Please make the dvd available! Sher’s production was splendid and PBS’s broadcast on Great Performances was wonderful from beginning to end. Can the dvd be bought anywhere? Thanks!

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  • Saty

    I would definately by the DVD if they sold it!

  • Jody Plant

    One of the best opera’s I have had the privilege to see from The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD series. Absolutely marvelous production on every level. Perfection! I missed the PBS showing and my husband inadvertently deleted this from our DVR. PLEASE, PLEASE make this available for purchase. To be sure, it is a treasure and I would watch it over and over again.

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  • Jose Martinez

    This was, very easily, one of the best performances I have seen in a long time. The music was amazing, the actors were spot-on, and the costumes were stupendous. My youngest son, who usually didn’t sit down and make time to watch this kind of programming, actually stopped doing his homework and watched it the whole way through; it’s because of this that, to this day, some years later, he still makes time to watch the Great Performances series.

    My only real complaint is that I haven’t seen it repeated on any of the PBS channels in the area, and that it has never, to my knowledge, been sold on DVD. Is there any chance of getting anyone to fix this rather distressing situation?

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